Petrol is changing- what does this mean for your club?

Clubs are being urged to consider their strategy for fuelling and replacing engines in the light of upcoming changes to the standard petrol grade in the UK.

From September 2021, the government is doubling the amount of bioethanol in petrol to help reduce carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and the standard (95 octane) petrol grade in Great Britain, E5, will become E10. In Northern Ireland, this will happen in early 2022.

Petrol in the UK currently contains up to 5% renewable ethanol, known as E5, and all petrol retailers will be switching to E10 petrol, which has up to 10% renewable ethanol.

Government guidance can be found here and in line with the RYA’s Pathway to Zero vision for the recreational boating sector to reach zero carbon emissions by 2050, clubs are being asked to consider what the changes mean for them.

Stuart Carruthers, RYA Cruising Manager, explains: “Moving from E5 to E10 petrol is part of the government’s drive to tackle climate change, which includes minimising the impact of fossil fuels on the environment. We also need to do our bit and the RYA is committed to achieving carbon zero and a sustainable future for recreational boating.

“Although it will still be legal to buy E5 and certain outlets will be able to supply it, including some petrol stations, we anticipate that not many retailers will keep a third pump for E5, and the issue will be availability. So we’re encouraging people when replacing engines to think about the future: now is a good time to look at electric engines and if that’s not an option, to make sure you buy an engine that can run on E10. And don’t replace a diesel engine with another diesel that might be obsolete in 10 years time. Think ahead.”

The government recognises there will be older engines that can’t run on E10 – including some 2-stroke engines – and the RYA is urging clubs, boat owners and operators to look up any engines for which they are unsure about E10 compatibility, via the manual or manufacturer, before filling up with the new-grade petrol.

While accidentally using one tank of E10 in an engine unsuitable for it will not cause immediate damage, sustained use of the incorrect fuel may shorten its working life.

Clubs and their members will want to consider whether any replacement outboard motors can use E10 petrol, or LPG (liquefied petroleum gas) which gives off fewer CO2 emissions than petrol or diesel, or whether to incorporate an electric alternative into their planning.

Stuart adds: “Electric engines are more expensive and there are difficulties with range but generally the drive is towards carbon zero. Most petrol forecourts will be switching to E10 and most yacht harbours are of the view that they will be supplying E10, so those who use outboard motors and need to use E5 will have to fill a can at a petrol station, and not all garages will be able to sell E5. The writing has been on the wall in terms of emissions for a long time and so clubs ideally need to start thinking about their strategy for replacing engines and as part of that consider more carbon-friendly options.”

Further information


Clubs seeking further advice about the changes and the RYA’s strategy towards zero carbon for recreational boating can find out more at:

If you are a RYA member or RYA Affiliated Club and have any questions regarding the change of petrol grading, please email: